Can My Employer Opt Out of Providing Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?

Under Illinois law, the vast majority of employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. As such, employers in the state can’t usually “opt out” of providing coverage or carrying workers’ comp insurance, though there may be some cases where an employer may elect not to provide coverage.

Industries that Must Provide Workers’ Compensation

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allows employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage in exchange for being free from liability for workplace accidents (meaning employees usually can’t sue them for injuries sustained on the job). In some industries, this coverage is mandatory. The Workers’ Compensation Act is considered to automatically apply to industries involving:

  • The erection, maintenance, removal, demolition, etc. of structures.
  • Construction, excavation, or electrical work.
  • Transporting goods.
  • The operation of a warehouse/storehouse.
  • Mining and quarrying.
  • Making, handling, or using explosives.
  • Working around molten metal, toxic vapors/dust, explosive gases/fluids, etc.
  • The use of sharp cutting tools, grinders, etc.
  • Regulated use of machinery.
  • The laying out or improvement of land.
  • Selling alcohol to be consumed on premises.
  • Work on telephone lines/poles.
  • The use of chemicals or heated instruments for treating/styling human hair.
  • Prepping and serving food.
  • Selling goods (if payroll exceeds $1,000).
  • Domestic work of at least 40 hours over 13 weeks or more.

That covers the vast majority of businesses, so in general, it’s safest for employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation Requirements

There are a few cases where the Workers’ Compensation Act does not apply. These include:

  • Agriculture with fewer than 400 working days of labor per quarter.
  • The family members of an employer in agriculture.
  • Most real estate brokers.
  • Sole proprietors
  • Partners in a partnership
  • Members of an LLC
  • Corporate officers (if they opt-out)

If these apply, then there are no requirements to provide workers’ comp, though that’s often because there aren’t any actual employees involved (except in the case of agriculture).

Additionally, if your employer doesn’t fall under any of the industries listed above that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act labels as extra hazardous, then they can technically elect not to provide coverage under Illinois law. However, if they do not, they are responsible for any damages they may owe for injuries you sustain while at work.

In addition, if it turns out that your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and they fail to do so, they can be fined $500 per day of noncompliance, with a minimum fine of $10,000.

Securing Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you have been injured on the job, you are most likely entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The process of securing benefits starts with reporting your injury to your employer and seeking medical help. From there, you need to file for benefits within a certain time frame. Otherwise, benefits may be denied

If you have a claim, your employer may attempt to downplay your injury or prove it wasn’t related to your workplace duties. If this happens, you need an attorney to represent you. For more information on how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve, contact Hart David Carson LLP today.

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